With 12 weeks to go before the 87th "Battle of the Piney Woods" at Reliant Stadium in Houston October 6, GoBearkats.com presents the next installment of"Great Performances" in Piney Woods history.
Sam Houston 6, Stephen F. Austin 0
For the first 13 seasons following World War II, Stephen F. Austin seldom had been a factor in the annual Lone Star Conference football race.
But in 1959, the Lumberjacks appeared headed for a league championship, posting victories over Southwest Texas, Sul Ross, Texas A&I and Howard Payne.
Only two games separated SFA from the title, the first a November 14 Homecoming encounter with Sam Houston in Nacogdoches.
The Jacks were heavy favorites to defeat Sam Houston, a victory that would set up a showdown for first place with East Texas in Commerce in the pair's November 21 season finale.
Sam Houston came into the tilt with only one victory in its last four contest.The Kats had been shut out by East Texas and lost to Texas A&I and Southwest Texas.
Stephen F. Austin featured a potent offense led by quarterback Harold Stephens and running back Kenny Davis.
A muddy field and a hard cold rain greeted the two teams as they took the field. The Lumberjacks offense ground out plenty of yardage between the 20s but bogged down each time SFA threatened to score.
After a scoreless first period, Sam Houston senior quarterback Ronnie Choate led a drive to the Jack 20-yard line and put the Kats on the board with a 40-yard field goal.
Choate added another field goal in the third quarter, this time from the 25-yard line.
Later in the period, SFA made its most determined drive, going 82 yards to the Sam Houston 4-yard line where the Bearkats held on fourth down to regain possession.
Stephen F. Austin ended the game with 601 yards total offense while the Bearkats produced only 149 yards, but Sam Houston ended up with a 6-0 upset, ending the Jacks' title hopes.
Choate, who later became a Sam Houston assistant football coach, started the Bearkats' national championship men's golf program and served as athletic director, ended the season as the team's leading rusher, passer and scorer.
Sam Houston center Leonard Speaker was named All-Lone Star Conference second team while Choate and end Jackie Harris were honorable mention selections.
The victory marked the eighth Bearkat victory over the Lumberjacks in the 10 "Battle of the Piney Woods" encounters in the decade of the 1950s.
The next chapter in the "Battle of the Piney Woods" football rivalry sees Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin battle at Reliant Stadium in Houston Oct. 6 at 3 p.m.
Crowds of more than 25,000 have packed the lower bowl at Reliant each of the past two years and tickets are going fast.
Battle of the Piney Woods Tickets are now on sale through the university's athletic website. Fans also can purchase tickets at the Sam Houston athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House in the south end zone at Bowers Stadium or by calling ticket office at (936) 294-1729.